John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

A Caliphate in Northeastern Nigeria?

by John Campbell Thursday, August 28, 2014
Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014. Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014.

Boko Haram chieftain Abubakar Shekau has announced in a video released on August 24 that the Borno town of Gwoza is now part of a caliphate and will be ruled according to strict Islamic law. The Nigerian Ministry of Defense denies that Boko Haram controls the town and insists that Nigeria’s territorial integrity is intact. According to credible Nigerian media sources, the United Nations Humanitarian Office (OCHA) has confirmed that Gwoza is under rebel control. Read more »

Elephant Population Tipping Points and Domestic American Ivory Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Orphaned baby elephants run for bottle-feeding at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage within the Nairobi National Park, near Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 6, 2014. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Orphaned baby elephants run for bottle-feeding at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage within the Nairobi National Park, near Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 6, 2014. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard. Emily is a researcher at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in London, England, and former research associate for the CFR Africa program.

The BBC reported on August 18 that in the past four years, approximately thirty-five thousand elephants have been poached for their ivory annually. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a tipping point has been reached in elephant populations: more elephants are dying than being born. The population is in decline due to the international demand for ivory. Read more »

Ebola in the Congo

by John Campbell Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007. Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007.

The health minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Kabange Numbi, has announced an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the remote Equateur province. Two cases have been confirmed by the ministry. The authorities have moved quickly to isolate the village where the disease was found. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 16–August 22

by John Campbell Monday, August 25, 2014
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 16 to August 22, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Ebola “a Complete Disaster”

by John Campbell Thursday, August 21, 2014
A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014. (UNICEF/Courtesy Reuters) A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014. (UNICEF/Courtesy Reuters)

This is the conclusion of Dr. Joanne Liu, MD, president of Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres-MSF). Her interview in the New York Times is a compelling must-read for those watching Ebola and West Africa. Far from echoing the cautious optimism that the disease may be coming under control in certain areas, she says, “no one yet has the full measure of the magnitude of this crisis. We don’t have good data collection. We don’t have enough surveillance.” Read more »

Ebola, Fear, and Better Communication

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, August 14, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, August 14, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

Ebola is fearful. Its symptoms include raging fever, bleeding from orifices (including the eyes and ears), diarrhea, and vomiting. The mortality rate is high. Caregivers move about in space suits. Necessary care for the sick and proper medical practices, including quarantine and the burial methods, are contrary to the strong family and community-centered values of traditional West African society. Read more »

Ten Books for Approaching Religious Conflict in Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A newspaper front page reporting the death of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe lies on a street in Calabar, Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, March 23, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A newspaper front page reporting the death of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe lies on a street in Calabar, Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, March 23, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has just published Emily Mellgard’s “Must Reads on Religious Conflict in Nigeria.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 9–August 15

by John Campbell Monday, August 18, 2014
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 9 to August 15, 2014.
These incidents are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

International Finance: “Somalia is Different”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, August 14, 2014
Customers walk out of a Dahabshiil money transfer office in "Kilometer Five" street of Soobe village, southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters) Customers walk out of a Dahabshiil money transfer office in "Kilometer Five" street of Soobe village, southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Sarah Madden, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations, Department of Studies. Sarah is currently a student at Santa Clara University studying business economics and entrepreneurship. Her interests are in Africa, economic development, and emerging markets. Read more »

Is the IMF Going to Save Ghana’s Troubled Economy?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, August 13, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama attend the Ghana Compact Signing Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, August 5, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama attend the Ghana Compact Signing Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, August 5, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Long hailed as evidence of Africa’s growing political and economic stability, Ghana is suffering a reversal of fortune. One week ago as President John Mahama arrived in Washington for the U.S.-Africa Summit, his government finally admitted it needed urgent help to fix its faltering economy and contacted the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance. Read more »